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Erin Burnett Outfront
Biden: U.S. Official: Russia Added 7,000 More Troops Around Ukraine as Forces Move into "Fighting Positions," Not Pulling Back; Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) Discusses About Massing of Russian Troops Near Ukraine Border; Voters Oust San Fran School Board Members Over School Closings; Trump Request to Shield White House Visitor Logs from January 6 Panel Rejected. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 16, 2022 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRAVIS TYGART, CEO OF THE UNITED STATES ANTI-DOPING AGENCY: Maybe it's time for a time out for Russia in the Olympics.
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Selina Wang reporting.
Erin Burnett OUTFRONT live from Ukraine starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, we are live in Ukraine tonight as the United States says Russia has added 7,000 more troops on the Ukraine border. U.S. officials also now monitoring a new bridge being built just miles from the Ukraine border.
Plus, we'll take you to a military recruitment center here in Lviv where residents are taking no chances when it comes to protecting their streets and homes.
And San Francisco's Mayor warning the city's children are suffering after Democrats take on their own party, ousting three members of the school board. Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.
OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news on the ground here in Ukraine, new Russian troops on the border. The United States says Russia has added approximately 7,000 new troops in recent days. This is according to a senior U.S. official tonight.
Now, this new estimate puts the number of Russian forces close to 160,000 and about 157,000 more than President Biden had mentioned only yesterday. And they're saying some of those troops, those 7,000 did come in literally today.
This comes despite claims from Moscow that they were pulling back some troops. U.S. intelligence officials have been raising the alarm, saying that that isn't true and also showing us this bridge less than four miles from the Ukrainian border. You can just take a look at your screen there. It was not there on Monday.
That one in the left, Monday, there was no bridge. There is now a bridge. It's near a mass Russian troop buildup in Belarus and at least one Russian convoy was seen on a road leading to the bridge area. That's just one reason why the U.S. and its allies are saying tonight that Putin is escalating his military buildup in clear sight despite any claims of troop drawdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NED PRICE, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: They are moving, concerningly, into fighting positions.
ANTONY BLINKEN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: What we're seeing is no meaningful pullback.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: It appears that Russia continues the military buildup.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: We face the largest buildup of troops on European soil since the darkest days of the Cold War.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: One attack is already in progress. We now know the ongoing cyberattack on key military and financial institutions here in Ukraine was the largest attack in the country's history and U.S. officials say that that attack has Russia written all over it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA NULAND, UNDER SECRETARY FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: But who is best at this, who uses this weapon all around the world? Obviously, the Kremlin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
The ongoing cyberattack, the new bridge on the border coming on the same day that we learned the United States and Russia came dangerously close to a military engagement. The Pentagon confirms multiple Russian fighter jets had what they're calling a 'extremely close encounter' with the U.S. Navy aircraft. A source telling CNN, the maneuvers by the Russians were both unsafe and unprofessional.
Putin today, meantime, putting his powers on display, bringing yet another world leader to Moscow to announce their support for him. Brazil's President, Jair Bolsonaro, saying, "We show solidarity with Russia." And meanwhile here in Ukraine, the government is trying to rapidly build out 25 new brigade units that they want to be ready to defend the interior of the country if Russia invades.
Today, I went to a military recruitment center here in Lviv where people are signing up to defend their city in the event Putin invades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARAS ISHCHYK, PRESS SECRETARY, UKRAINIAN TERRITORIAL DEFENSE FORCES: We build our brigade very fast, because it's very hard times. People need to protect their homes. They need to fight with Russian aggression. I understood that I'm not ready for this and what can I do to be ready, actually. This was my decision, because it's helped me to sleep at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It's helped him to sleep at night to sign up and get ready. That was Taras Ishchyk. He's leading up recruiting for the 103rd Brigade. He tells me there are many others like him from all walks of life who feel the urgency to join now. I met one of them who signed up today after he helped unload British military assistance at a nearby base.
Oleksandr Oleshko is a veteran who has fought Russia. He's now returning in case he's needed to fight on the streets of his city.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLEKSANDR OLESHKO, VOLUNTEERING FOR THE UKRAINIAN TERRITORIAL DEFENSE FORCES: For today, I wanted to serve my land and my family and my regime (ph). It's necessary to make this dire decision for protection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: A dire decision by not a hard one for so many here.
We have a team of reporters on the ground with me tonight. Alex Marquardt is in Mariupol right near the Russian border. Matthew Chance is in the capital of Kyiv.
And, Matthew, I want to start with you. I know you've been speaking to Ukrainian officials again tonight, this as we're getting the breaking news that the United States is saying Putin has added 7,000 more troops, including some of those today. What are you learning?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'm not sure that extra 7,000 troops is going to change the calculus that the Ukrainian military intelligence are making at the moment. I saw their latest intelligence assessment earlier on today and they were saying that look, we estimate there are 148,000, more than 148,000 was the figure they gave. That puts it in line with what President Biden said last night, 150,000. Obviously, that's been up now by another 7,000.
But the point Ukrainians are making in this intelligence assessment is that that level of force concentration, that's not enough, they believe, for the Russians to stage a significant large scale military attack, a full-scale invasion, for instance, inside Ukraine, doesn't mean they can't do something smaller or even attempt it with forces at that level.
I think the other factor we have to consider though, when we talk about the number of forces that are available for any kind of Russian invasion, we don't often talk about this, the Russian-backed rebels in those Russian batch regions, those separatist regions in the east of Ukraine. And there was something in the region of 35,000 locals but seasoned fighters who would presumably be fighting in any war on the side of Moscow, Erin.
BURNETT: Great. So those bring those numbers higher, but as you point out, invading and taking over quickly as one thing and then occupying and holding on is another. It takes a lot more people than they currently have, as you point out and that is the big question here. All right. Thank you very much, Matthew.
As I mentioned, Alex Marquardt is also in Ukraine here tonight. He is in the city of Mariupol where Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky visited today and, of course, is right near the Russian border, right near the occupied area of Crimea. Alex, what happened on Zelensky's visit today?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, President Zelensky was very keen to say that no matter what happens we are ready. This, as you know, was a day of unity. A day that he announced a decreed just two days ago, so he really wanted to play that up today. We saw him visiting exercises in the northwest of the country, earlier this morning. Then he came all the way down here to the southeast of the country. He went to a National Guard base and handed out medals to National Guard forces and thank them for their service.
And you'll remember that when he announced this day of national unity, he made this sort of sarcastic reference to reports and information that an invasion might come this week. He was really downplaying it. And so today, he said that no matter what happens, whether it's on the 16th, on the 17th, on the 18th, on a couple of months from now, we will be ready to defend our country.
And the main point, he said, is that this is the year 2022, this is no longer 2014. Now, 2014, Erin, that's the year when Russia invaded, when they annexed Crimea, when the fighting started in those areas that you were just talking about, just about 15 miles away.
And so they're confident that they can beat back those forces. They can continue fighting and that they will be able to defend themselves. And so that was the message that he was really trying to play up. And Erin, that is what we're hearing from the people as well.
Absolutely there is concern, like the people that you were seeing in those trainings. But there are others who are simply saying, this is something that we are used to. We have been living next to Russia for so long. We have been living next to this fighting for the past eight years. And so there is not a real sense of panic, there certainly is concern. They are bracing themselves for what's to come, but there is that significant disparity between the alarm that we're hearing from U.S. officials and really what's playing out here on the ground in Ukraine. Erin?
BURNETT: Yes. Yes, absolutely. And in such an odd sense, it is business as usual. I mean, people are going about their lives and people are going to work and they are living life. Thank you so much, Alex.
And I want to go now to Democratic Senator Jack Reed. He is the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. He is also a veteran himself and a former Army Ranger, paratrooper, served in the 82nd Airborne, which currently has 5,000 troops that President Biden has sent over and added to stationed in Poland near the Ukraine border. Thank you so much for being with me, Senator.
So we just learned about more Russian troops massing, these latest numbers coming in tonight. I know you have been in a series of classified briefings, what concerns you most from what you're hearing?
SEN. JACK REED (D-RI): Well, it appears that the Russians are prepared to initiate an invasion of Ukraine at any moment.
Despite what Putin is saying with some reports of troop movements, the positions they are taking are attack positions, as you pointed out. They're building bridges so they can move armored forces into Ukraine. They seem to be poised to attacking and that, I think, is the final word. It comes from Putin, but it seems like he set the stage to conduct an invasion.
BURNETT: I want to talk about that bridge that you just mentioned, the bridge that's four miles from the Ukraine border, north of Kyiv. It was built by Russia or perhaps its Belarusian allies. It was built literally overnight. It wasn't there Monday and now everyone can see it very clearly on their screen now.
When you look at that, does that make you think invasion now or building it for later to have in his back pocket? I mean, Senator, from your briefings and what you're hearing, how likely do you think an invasion is at this point?
REED: Well, I think this is very strong possibility. Building that bridge was clearly to facilitate armored vehicles and other motorized vehicles and getting into the Ukraine and to support the offensive operations. They are positioned with a hundred thousand plus troops, combat support elements, combat hospitals, ammunition dumps, et cetera, to conduct an operation.
This is not a staged battle drill that they do periodically. The question remains will Putin say yes. And the efforts of the administration together with our NATO allies is to suggest that that would be the wrong decision, because of sanctions, because of our continuous support of the Ukrainian government.
BURNETT: So today, we learned that Russian government-backed hackers, Senator, got sensitive information on weapons on the development and deployment of American weapons and that, in fact, the Russian had breached American defense contractors for two years, over the past two years getting all this information. This is jarring. It's frightening. Do you know how much was compromised?
REED: No, but both sides, both the United States and Russia are continually probing through cyber to pick up information on weapons systems, on intelligence, et cetera. We have a very active cyber operation against Russia that was demonstrated after the or before the 2020 elections when we literally took out some Russian sites who we knew were interfering with our elections.
So the compromise of intelligence information is on both sides and I think we're very well-prepared with our cyber operations to assist the Ukrainian.
BURNETT: So yesterday, the top department of Homeland Security intelligence official warned that tensions between Russia and Ukraine have the potential to really elevate the threatened environment in the United States homeland. How concerned are you right now about the safety of the United States itself?
REED: The capability of the Russians to launch attacks within the United States, that's obvious. They've done it in our elections in 2016, particularly. They could use not only a KGB and other Russian entities, but criminal associates to do it and try to hide their tracks. That's why we are on alert.
We are communicating to our major infrastructures, both financial institutions, electoral institutions of the possibility. We're prepared to react cyber com (ph) is on full alert. It would be, I think, a very dangerous and significant mistake by the Russians to try to intimidate us this way. We can respond.
BURNETT: Senator, we thank you so much for your time tonight.
REED: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, not far from where we are tonight, Ukraine's military now taking to the air for major military exercises you'll see.
Plus, President Biden ordering the National Archives to turn over Trump's visitor logs to the January 6 Select Committee. So what does the committee expect to learn?
And the 15-year-old Russian figure skater who tested positive for a banned substance is about to take the ice again. Right now, she's in the lead for a gold. I'll talk to a former U.S. Olympic skater.
BURNETT: Breaking news, an official just announcing 'every indication we have now is they mean only to publicly offer to talk and make claims about de-escalation while privately mobilizing for war'. That's a U.S. official speaking of Russia. On the heels of our learning that Russia has added 7,000 troops along the Ukrainian border, despite claims from Putin that he was pulling back some troops after military exercises.
This is amid a show of force here in western Ukraine. Ukraine's military taking to the air for major military exercises at an airfield not far from where we are right now. Tanks and troops also on the move on the ground to prepare for possible invasion, so they've been doing exercises, tanks, all of that and putting out the video competition that goes on here, they are putting all those videos out tonight.
It comes as the United States is also bulking up its military presence in this region, thousands of troops from Fort Bragg arriving near the Polish border with Ukraine, about two hours from where we are right now at that border, as you can see, over on the Polish side on those NATO bases.
Nick Paton Walsh is OUTFRONT near the Polish border with Ukraine. So Nick, obviously, we hear talk about the greatest military buildup in Europe since the Cold War and that is exactly what it means; it's Russian troops, it's Ukrainian troops, it's Belarusian troops, it's NATO troops and it is American troops. What are the plans for these U.S. troops in Poland?
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we saw, Erin, significant numbers arriving part of a sort of a move here which received 3,000 new troops here in Poland. And the plan really for them now is to be here just in case they are required to move forward and assist getting U.S. citizens out of Ukraine in the event that there is a conflict at where you are.
Now, we also saw significant preparations though too. Many C-17 cargo planes have been landing at the airport near here in past days.
We saw a passenger plane bringing in numbers of troops equipment as well. And also, too, it's important to point out, a large tent encampment for them on a Polish military base and then also two larger white tents. We're not quite sure what they're for yet, suggestions of more elaborate planning potentially just in case something occurs in the weeks ahead.
Now, as I say, there is no concrete sort of schedule or plan lined out for them here. But it is remarkable to know about how all these moves have been planned within NATO, as drills as practices over the past years and to see them now inactive because of a potential real threat is quite startling as was the sort of sheer force I think we saw arriving today, Black Hawk helicopters as well.
They definitely mean business. Obviously, they hope frankly to stay here board under canvas for quite some time in this cold weather. But there's also seriously intent behind these moves too. I'm actually here at the Polish Ukrainian border, Erin, on the other side from where you are. I have to say total quiet here now.
Quite a volume of traffic going back into Ukraine, a lot of bravado too from some of the Ukrainians we were speaking to about how they stopped Putin in his tracks. But still, I think escalating here the concerns about what this U.S. presence may end up being involved and if things go wrong where you are. Erin?
BURNETT: Yes, absolutely. Thank you very much.
And I want to go now, after that reporting, to a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Peter Zwack, because he served as the Senior U.S. Defense Official and attache to the Russian Federation and was there during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and 2015. John Sipher also with me, the former CIA Deputy Chief of Russian operations. All right. No one knows this better than the both of you.
So General, let me start with you and the breaking news, the U.S. says Russia has added approximately 7,000 new troops, including some as recently as today, despite claims of backing down, what's your read on this, General?
BRIG. GEN. PETER ZWACK, U.S. ARMY (RET.): Good evening and I know Lviv well and what a great place to be where you are. Enjoyed the recording. What is - I think we're all in this sort of informed, almost suspended disbelief that it's going this far and it is continuing this way. It makes no sense.
But you have upwards of 150,000, nobody knows the exact number, posturing, moving and it's really, really dangerous, it makes no sense. But when you add in, Erin, hubris, pride, a grievance narrative, history, we land ourselves in history, sometimes into unimaginable circumstances and we may be headed in that way. It makes no sense. Our force is coming in to first - yes, there's a deterrence aspect that is also to assure our allies in this area that are all trying to deal with this.
BURNETT: And as you point out, it's sort of no one can believe what they're seeing, 7,000 more troops. As you point out, we don't know the exact number, but it's continuing to escalate.
And John, you just heard Nick's reporting. When you just see the U.S. is saying it's defensive and they're just there to support, but the Black Hawks coming in and all the troops coming in, and all of that massing on the eastern border of NATO, how does Putin view that? How does Putin view those U.S. troops now all and equipment massing on the border?
JOHN SIPHER, FORMER CIA DEPUTY CHIEF OF RUSSIAN OPERATIONS: Well, I think the administration and NATO have done a really good job here. We came in with, frankly, (inaudible). We've been treating Putin the wrong way for years. He's been at war with us and we've continued to sort of accommodate him.
We came out of sort of a real fumble in Afghanistan, our internal politics look weak and a year ago when President Trump was in power, it looked like NATO might even fall apart. So what the administration has done is a variety of thing, layers of things to try to deter it. They've talked about serious sanctions. They've moved troops to Europe to NATO, to strengthen it, to add unity. They've worked very, very hard on communicating.
The President's speech yesterday was really good about trying to receive the narrative from Putin, because essentially, Putin manufactured this crisis out of thin air. There was nothing. There was no threat to him. There was nothing and he created this false narrative about being humiliated in the '90s, which, frankly, wasn't true. We tried to help Russia in the '90s about threats from Ukraine and from NATO in the United States, which aren't true and the President pointed that out.
So all of these things are just trying to push back, make clear that our allies are together and create a deterrent effect, so all of it; using intelligence, working together, sending troops in Europe. And I think the ministration has done a good job of really marshaling resources here to make Putin know that we're serious.
BURNETT: Gen. Zwack, I want to show again some of the new video out of Ukraine near where I am at military bases they did some drills today. They did air drills, ground drills. They put this video out.
You heard Nick talking about people coming in the border, the bravado of we can beat Russia. We're seeing that too and you have average Ukrainians now signing up to defend their country if the Russians literally come on their streets and it ends up sort of street-to- street combat. They say that they're prepared for that, even though they don't expect it. Here's one man I spoke to earlier today who decided to join the fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISHCHYK: Russia is our historical enemy, because many, many years they needed to invade us and occupied us and many, many years we was under Russian occupation. So this war is part of life of everyone in Ukraine.
BURNETT: It's a part of life, war.
ISHCHYK: Yes. Yes. It's a very long and difficult story of our Ukrainian history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: General, you refer to history, that's what you see there; a young person who sees that history as a current and present part of his life in his definition. But local military units like the one that he is joined in Ukraine, 25 of them were only announced on January 1st. These are the local territorial defense groups, so they're trying to build them up incredibly rapidly. They're barely starting. General, is Ukraine truly prepared to take on Russia in a meaningful way?
ZWACK: Great question and if you will in the purely conventional fight, out there in the step, in the fields, no, but they are much better. The modern, in my mind, Ukraine was - besides 1990 was born in the battlefields of 2014 and 2015 where a hodgepodge Ukrainian military bought the Russian proxies with Russian regulars in the background to a near standstill on Donbas.
They have then for the last seven years been in this ugly, ugly - just ugly fight, weakening - just up there, up until now when the Russians had played their full cards in Lugansk and Donetsk. And I think that Ukrainians, you said it, they focused, they know they've got overmatch out in the countryside, but in the cities Ukrainians will make it really hard. I think the Russians know that. If they go in, it will not be easy. And, again, there is ...
BURNETT: No, it will not be. Sorry, I know there's a bit of a delay, but I mean it seems that way from everyone you speak to. I mean, they do and they're learning how to use guns, they know how to use guns, they own guns.
John, the Pentagon has confirmed that three U.S. Navy aircraft had that extremely close encounter with multiple Russian military jets over the weekend. Sources telling CNN that the Russian maneuvers were unsafe and unprofessional. So how concerned are you, John, that an accident could happen that escalates into what really would be a true disaster which is direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia?
SIPHER: That's always a concern. And, again, this is on Vladimir Putin for putting these things into place. But our military is very, very professional. We've been dealing with this for years, if you go back and look. It's a fairly regular occurrence where they come up next to our aircraft or they try to go near our troops and these type of things and we're sort of used to dealing with that.
So I agree with the General, Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer. He always likes to play covert games and all sorts of games, so he can choose to attack in a conventional way, he can just use missiles and airplanes, he can try to destroy the military. So it's going to be - there's no one piece of information that's going to let us know what's going to happen here. We're just going to have to sort of maintain day by day to keep track.
BURNETT: Thank you.
ZWACK: Can I make a short comment?
ZWACK: Very, very quickly. I believe that this is singularly the most dangerous thing that you get an accident or an incident, it doesn't have to be on the Ukrainian periphery, or it could be in the Pacific, it could be in the Arctic, it could be in the Mediterranean or the Atlantic and then it spins out of control and aircraft crushes another aircraft, submarine.
This is really dangerous. Folks need to be talking including us and the Russians and just lower the temperature, because it is really dense and we're both nuclear tipped.
BURNETT: Yes. All right. Thank you.
[19:30:01] And next, voters in one of America's most liberal cities, San
Francisco, ousting three members because they didn't reopen schools fast enough. Next, I'm going to talk to a mother who was a long time Democrat and helped lead the recall effort.
And the January 6th committee could soon learn who Trump was meeting with on January 6th.
BURNETT: Tonight, San Francisco Mayor London Breed taking aim at the city school board's performance during the COVID pandemic. This after a resounding rejection of the board by voters who overwhelmingly support it.
And, by the way, when I say overwhelmingly I mean it. It's more than 70 percent. A recall of three members of the board.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR LONDON BREED (D), SAN FRANCISCO: The frustration, the uncertainty, the inconsistent information, the lack of clarity, the bickering, the politics, and who suffered the most? Our children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: San Francisco public school kids did suffer. They stayed closed for full in person learning for 17 months, from mid-March in 2020, like obviously across the country, all the way to August of 2021.
And while they were closed, the school board pushed forward on other things like renaming 44 schools because they were named after public figures the school board deemed controversial, because those figures were linked to historical injustices, like slavery, genocide and the oppression of women. They were focusing on that, as the kids weren't in school. And that incensed many voters.
OUTFRONT now, Jennifer Sey. She is a mom, a long time parent of kids, formerly in public school in San Francisco. She was a vocal Democrat for 30 years and became a vocal advocate for reopening schools during the pandemic.
She recently resigned as the brand for the jean's company Levi's, saying she was pushed out over her views.
Now, Jennifer, I really appreciate your time tonight, and I do want to get to your personal story in a moment. First, as mother, as a long time San Francisco public school parent, you were pushing for schools to reopen. You publicly pushed for this recall.
How did you feel when you learned about this vote? More than 70 percent of the people supported the recall. How overwhelmingly successful it was. JENNIFER SEY, LEV'S EXEC QUIT OVER OUTSPOKEN VIEWS ON REOPENING
SCHOOLS: Yeah, it was I credibly decisive. Parents made their voices heard. What I felt was people were opposed to the school closures all along. People were frustrated with the board of ed all along and they were focused on much less important issues than getting the schools open.
But parents were afraid to speak out over the course of the 17 months of closures. Not all parents but many, but they have made their voices heard. I think it's really problematic that people were afraid to be vocal on this issue and push to get schools open. I think there was a silent majority that knew that schools needed to be open and they were afraid because if you veer from the sort of mainstream narrative or the orthodoxy, there's recrimination.
BURNETT: Well, certainly, that's what we saw in that vote, right? You talk about a silent majority. That's what that vote shows. That would be correct in San Francisco.
You know, Jennifer talking to you and I've been watching a will the of your posts over recent months. We heard from other long time Democrats. You talk about you were Democrat for 30 years.
There are others like you who are deeply frustrated with the party's COVID school policy. Here is an Ohio parent that my colleague Evan McMorris-Santoro recently spoke to. I wanted to play something she said specifically to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you would have told me two years ago that I would be alienated from the Democrat party, I wouldn't have believed it. I just think people realized what a big deal closing school for a year.
Why is my son, who already double vaccinated and already had corona, masking 40 hours a week when no one is in our society. He's low risk. That's the other thing. I think Democrats have been way too dogmatic about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: What lessons do you want Democrats to learn from you, from other parents like her who clearly have some of the deep frustrations and anger that you do?
SEY: Yeah. I mean, I want them to listen to us. I still feel firmly rooted in what I thought were the values and principles of the Democratic Party. I feel they abandoned those principles around kids and access to public education. What we're faced with is being scolded, being anti-science and being racist.
You know, I want the party to listen to us. I feel alienated from the party. I feel like it left me. I didn't leave it. It left me. I stayed true to the values.
BURNETT: It's very interesting way of saying it. It left you as opposed to you leaving it.
Now, I want to talk about -- you know, you choose to move your family to Colorado during because of the school issue. You worked at Levi's for more than 20 years, Jennifer. You became the company's brand president. You were at the very top.
The CEO of Levi's said you were on track to be the next CEO. And then you say you resigned so you could keep speaking out. Now, I wanted to read to you the statement that the company sent to us, part of it. It's quite long. I wanted to read the key part and give you chance to respond.
So, they say: Jen's statement about COVID-19 public health measures undermine the guidelines we were following to ensure the health and safety of our employees and customers. All of our leaders and especially executive officers have a responsibility to put our values and health and safety at the forefront of their actions. This was especially true during the global pandemic. Jen decided to leave the company and resigned.
Tell me why it was so important for you to speak out despite the consequences here of this happening to your career?
SEY: Yeah, I mean, I would start by saying I did not undermine the guidelines of the company. I spoke specifically about children in school and need for schools to be open.
When I did talk about masking it was for young -- very young children. You know, I have a 5-year-old who has been wearing mask her entire life. So, I was very precise and specific and was completely focused on children. What I experienced was a tremendous amount of pressure, not to speak out and I just think it shouldn't be an HR violation to have opinions on matters that affect me and my family.
I just don't think companies can operate that way. It's viewpoint discrimination. I've been outspoken about other political issues in past. Let me say I don't think kids and free speech should be political issues.
But my views that I've express merchandise the past were considered to be just fine. This position on school specifically veered from, frankly, what the Democratic Party was doing and what deep blue cities were doing. So, it was considered unacceptable. I never advocated for violating company guidelines.
And so, you know, this is issue of speaking out about kids and schools became intertwined with free speech and viewpoint discrimination. That's why I felt it was important to walk away on my terms because I wanted to be able to talk about that and the likelihood of me being able to do that, the necessity of signing a non-disclosure agreement when, you know, when you're sort of pushed out and laid off, I wouldn't have been able to.
These issues are too important to me. It felt hypocritical. It felt just too hypocritical. I would have been giving up any integrity that I might have if I were to sign a non-disclosure agreement and not talk about this.
BURNETT: Which I really appreciate you talking about it and sharing your story with us. Thank you very much.
SEY: Thank you for having me, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. And next, the January 6th Select Committee about to learn who Trump may have been meeting with on the day of the insurrection.
Plus, Russian skater Kamila Valieva who tested positive for a banned substance became first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics. So, coming up, I'm going to talk to the first American to land a triple axel at the Games and get her view.
BURNETT: New tonight, President Biden ordering the National Archives to hand over former President Trump's White House visitor logs to the January 6th committee. The White House rejecting Trump's claim of executive privilege saying it's, quote, not in the best interest of the United States and therefore is not justified as to these records.
So, it comes after the Supreme Court refused to block other Trump records from reaching the January 6th Committee.
So, Ryan Nobles has been covering all of this as you know, and he's OUTFRONT tonight.
So, Ryan, tell me what you are learning from the committee, what they want from this.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's been clear from the start that what the committee is trying to uncover is a direct link between the former president's conduct leading up to January 6th and the teams to over turn the will of the American voters. What these White House visitor logs could show are the type of people that were coming in and out of the White House of the days leading up to January 6th.
We already know from some of the public reporting there were many of these individuals that were at the front lines of this attempt to undermine the election results. People like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell. Others like Congressman Mo Brooks and those who are peddling these false claims about the election results, and even taking it a step further by scheming up different legal theories that could be used to try and prevent the certification of those election results.
Now, while this information is important to the committee, what is unclear is how much it will provide them in terms of piecing this puzzle together. First of all, we know the Trump administration was a little bit lackluster when it came to recordkeeping on a number of fronts. We have reported about that as it relates to the call logs on January 6th.
But there's also so much information these visitor logs can tell you. It's who gets cleared into the building on any given day. It doesn't say what offices they go to after their first initial meeting. It also lacks a lot of details information about who comes in and out of the White House residence.
So, we have seen, though, Erin, is the committee is casting a wide net. They are talking to a lot of people. They deposed a number of people. They are conducting a lot of interviews.
This may not present everything they are looking for but hoping it's another piece of information that will allow them to paint the picture of what happened on January 6th -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. As you say, so many pieces. Even the interview piece of the puzzle already got 550 plus interview puzzle pieces so putting it together to assemble a picture. Thank you.
And next, the Russian figure skater who tested positive for a banned substance just became first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Olympics. So, next, I'm going to speak to a former U.S. Olympic skater. She was the first woman to land a triple axel.
And Lviv where I am tonight marked here in Ukraine was called a day of unity.
BURNETT: Tonight, Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva just hours away from her final Olympic skate at these games. The 15 year old is in first place right now and she is allowed to compete despite testing positive for a banned substance before the games.
OUTFRONT now, Mirai Nagasu, a former U.S. Olympic skater. She won bronze at the 2018 Games.
Mirai, I really appreciate talking to you. You know, you understand this better than anyone. How does it make you feel to see Valieva on the ice and leading the pack despite this positive test?
MIRAI NAGASU, FORMER U.S. OLYMPIC FIGGURE SKATER: My heart is definitely torn because I know that as figure skaters, our age is so important because we line up our birthdays to qualify for the Olympic Games. And so I have so much empathy for Kamila.
However, I -- when I got to the Olympics, that was the one thing we could rely on that we were all competing on a clean field. So the fact she's there and has had to fight her suspension, that puts a lot of things into question like the medal ceremony. And though I say the journey is more important, that medal ceremony kind of ties it all together, so I feel for all of the athletes there.
BURNETT: So, you know, Mirai, you are capable of doing things mere humans cannot do. And you are known for being the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympic Games, right? It was an incredible moment.
NAGASU: Thank you.
BURNETT: So, then you know, I remember days ago watching Valieva, I do love to watch. Valieva landed the first quadruple jump by a woman at the Olympics. And after that happened Karen Chen said, quote, the Russian women are doing things I can only dream of doing. I'm not capable of doing what they are doing.
Now, she said that before anybody learned about Valieva's positive drug test result. What do you think when you see Valieva perform?
NAGASU: Again, I have nothing but admiration for the way they have pushed the boundaries of our sport. However, you know, there's always been this underlying factor. There's a reason that those athletes are not competing under their own flag. They're going there representing the ROC, the Russian Olympic Committee.
And I think we're kind of at a point now all of us figure skaters are like we need a change in the system because we need to ensure all sports are on clean grounds because this is not the first time this has happened, but it is the first time that we're allowing a skater -- an athlete with, you know, kind of a red alert to compete.
So the fact that this is happening is mind-blowing all of us. I mean, Richardson said what is the difference between my case and Kamila's and it's because she's a protected person because she's a minor.
However, the fact that the medal ceremony is delayed indefinitely really puts a damper on the Olympics.
BURNETT: Right. And as you say, you know, you competed in the 2010 Olympics. You were only 16 years old, right? About the same age as Valieva.
You know, obviously, she's a minor. Who knows what she knew or didn't know about whatever happened.
Who do you think needs to be held accountable for this positive test and the great damage, frankly, being done to your sport and others by teams who are competing with these unresolved histories of doping?
NAGASU: You said it exactly right. Kamila is an intermediary to a bigger problem, and there are people who are supposed to be guiding her appropriately who are most likely saying this is what you need to take to be your best, so those are the people we need to hold accountable.
But at the end of the day, until our system is willing to change, then protocol seems to change from athlete to athlete, and I think that's where we have an issue with what's happening in Beijing.
BURNETT: All right. Well, Mirai, I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
NAGASU: Thank you for having me.
BURNETT: All right.
And next a day of unity, transforming this city into a sea of flags.
BURNETT: Today was a National Day of unity here in Ukraine, hastily announced by President Zelensky on what some had said would be invasion day. Even though there wasn't a lot of time to plan, patriotism was on full display. Here the ubiquitous flag stood out to me. And in the old city where you've got buildings together, it was a sea of flags because doors were so close together.
A few hundred people gathered in the center of this city for a ceremony.
These young people who are all about 17 years old, and they're singing a song called "There is Hope." And if you look here, you can see their t-shirts, "I am Ukraine, I love freedom", sentiment we are hearing from so many here.
Thanks so much for joining us.
"AC360" starts now.